July 1, 2014
Mr. Nipun Soni is Management Graduate with over 15 years of experience and in depth knowledge of BOT plus front line experience of toll operation, sales and customer service. He was a part of mobilization team of 2 BOT Projects (Delhi Gurgaon and Bangalore elevated Toll way Limited) plus setting the system and procedure for the biggest Point of Sale Operations in India at Delhi Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd, also he was involved in setting up and mobilizing the operations for Multi-Level Car Parking ( capacity of 4300 cars ) in Delhi International Airport . He is involved in setting up SOP and ensuring the implementation of the same across various concessionaires.
Mr. Soni has been involved in Setting up of establishments, right from back end to front end to delivery i.e. Equipment Design, Procurement to Installation and Commissioning of the Project .Involved in starting Commercial operations and stabilizing Operations and Maintenance and meeting expectation of the Management with Optimization of Revenue while maintaining good health of Project and good relations across with the Client and Customer while meeting all social obligations.
Editorial:Ways of Pilferage
Checks that can be put in place
|1.||Extra Wide Lane / Two Wheeler Lane
|4.||Local LCV & Truck
|5.||Bar Code Transaction
|6.||Tamper with the System
August 13, 2013
Sanjay Mehra is currently working as Professor, Vastu Kala academy, College Of Architecture, Delhi and has a total of twenty six years of professional experience that includes eleven years of academic experience. His work includes Understanding and working in a cultural framework keeping in mind the Socio-economic and physical infrastructure conditions. Working on available resources and their effective utilization for development that suits the context is the main concern. Developing new urban typology for existing cites/towns, that are constantly being invaded by modern infrastructure and technological advancement.
” Transport Corridors – Shaping Fringes”
It primarily skirts around the tolling system of roads along with their construction, operations management and the economics. Along with the materials and technology used in various parts of the world for the same, I believe that it is the prime objective of creating this platform.
I also feel that there are some other pertinent issues that need to be addressed while making a toll road. One of the fundamental issues is how it might affect the Development Process vis a vis accelerate the development process.
It would be interesting to note that most of the tolll roads planned in India are crossing areas that are undergoing changes and transformation that may affect the edges and boundary condition between toll road and the settlement where it is crossing. Here architecture may play an important role as to understand the role that fringes play and the kind of architecture that suits the edges.
This is my area of interest, to look at the edge conditions and define an interface between the settlement and a transport corridor..!!
This may answer larger issues of urbanization and city forms along the transport corridors.
July 18, 2012
Richard Di Bona has been a transport planning consultant for approximately 20 years, gaining experience on projects in over 20 countries. This includes tollway experience in Europe, Australia and across Asia. Originally from the UK, he has been based in Hong Kong for over 17 years and has been extensively involved in tollways in Mainland China in particular. He has advised on traffic and toll revenue projections and demand-side risks variously to advise bidders for BOT concessions, potential lenders, government & development agencies, as well as on Bond Issues, Private Placement and Stock Market listings for tollway operators.
His guest editorial is entitled “Expressway Development in China, Malaysia and Mexico; and Potential Lessons for India”.
Expressway Development in China, Malaysia and Mexico; and Potential Lessons for India
Having been privileged to be invited to write something for IndiaTollways.com I was asked to come up with my own topic for my guest editorial, pulling on my interests and experience with tollways internationally. After some thought, I decided to step back and reflect on the question of why expressway development is important and moreover, whilst learning from overseas experience is important, why it is equally important to consider local conditions; this with reference to the experiences of China, Malaysia and Mexico.
Without a doubt, one of the keys to China’s development has been the development of tollways, specifically inter-urban tolled expressways. These have often reduced round-trip journey times from days to a day-trip for trucks. Moreover, they added capacity to enable factories to develop and expand in the knowledge that they could receive raw materials from and send manufactured goods to ports (which themselves also expanded). The impact on development in much of China has been evident, since my first visit in 1993.
Meanwhile, across the Pacific at the end of 1992, Canada, Mexico and the USA signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In the run-up to this, maverick US politician Ross Perot talked of the “sucking sound” of jobs shifting to Mexico as a consequence of NAFTA. And it could be argued that a number of low-end manufacturing jobs did indeed shift to Mexico.
However, this raises a question: why did higher end manufacturing not develop in Mexico to the same extent as China, or even Malaysia? After all, both Mexico and Malaysia were early adopters of private finance into the development of tolled expressways, beginning back in the 1980s. And China only really got in on the act in the mid- to late-1990s.
To a great extent, the answer lies in the development of expressways on a sustainable basis. Where private finance is involved, this requires sustainable returns to investors.Decisions and management of expressway development were decentralised, with the aim of increasing responsiveness. However, local authorities in Mexico by-and-large did not have the necessary skills and capabilities at the time to properly manage expressway development. As a consequence, Mexico’s US$13.3bn 1989-94 toll road programme amassed US$5.5bn in non-performing non-recourse loans. Given this background, it is hardly surprising that infrastructure development in Mexico was less attractive to investors; and it could be argued that this was one reason why Mexico failed to fully reap the opportunities presented by NAFTA.
Malaysia and China in contrast have both developed markedly, both in terms of tollways and of wider industrial and technological advance.
Like Mexico, Malaysia has also been cited as an early adoptor of encouraging private involvement in the provision of highways, most notably with the tolled North-South Highway (or “PLUS”), in the 1980s. This was seen as a highly successful project and became the catalyst for a boom in tollway construction in the country from the 1990s.
However, Malaysia’s experience was not without its problems: whilst the tollway network grew quickly, by the late 1990s questions were being asked regarding the financial prospects of a number of concessions. It was argued that Malaysia built-out its inter-urban expressway network too quickly, resulting in insufficient demand for the capacity offered. In a number of cases concessions were granted which ran parallel to existing tollway concessions. Those identifying schemes could often proceed (subject to financing) without due diligence of impacts on existing Build-Operate-Transfer concessions. This might have helped national development, but it did not necessarily help the fortunes of tollway operators and investors!
China’s embracing of private involvement in tollways began with the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Superhighway, the first section of which opened in 1994. This was a Build-Operate-Transfer concession. However, by the time this opened, China was already developing tollways with its own government financing. But quite often local (initially primarily Provincial-level) government would construct and open the first phase of a tollway and then seek private investment as a Joint Venture, both to take on the management of the completed section and to obtain finance for the completion of subsequent sections. In a number of cases, Provincial governments would set up a company holding the expressway concession rights and then list a proportion of the equity on stock exchanges.
Given the pace of development in China, a number of different approaches were used. And each had its advantages and on occasion, its drawbacks also. Jiangsu Expressway Co. Ltd. held not only the rights to the Jiangsu section of the Shanghai-Nanjing expressway, but also a number of connecting tollways. Moreover, the company also operated toll collection systems on the pre-existing parallel National Highway, enabling tolls to be coordinated and helping to ensure that the Malaysian problem, of competing expressways opening before there was sufficient demand for both the old and new expressways, did not arise. Of course, the pace of economic growth in general in China also helped the success of many projects: and expressways meant that for truck drivers on certain inter-provincial routes, what had been up to a one-week round trip previously, could become a two-day or even same-day trip.
There were however problems with some projects. When debt-financing was selected by concessionaires, there were a few instances of too many Bonds being issued, with too large a share of debt repayments being scheduled too early on, leading to the bankruptcy of a small number of private investor-operators.
Other issues arose when city-level government granted rights for a scheme connecting to an adjacent city. (City-level government in China is one tier beneath Provincial government.) For example, when the tolled Humen Bridge in Guangdong was planned and built, it was assumed that the pre-existing ferry service would cease operation. However, being operated by the city government on the other side of the river, not only continued to operate but ensured that ferry tolls for trucks undercut road tolls on the bridge. This issue of “competitive responses” is not new to transport planning: the Channel Tunnel linking Britain to France faced the same challenge from incumbent cross-channel ferry operators. And also in the UK, when the Sheffield Supertram first opened, deregulated bus operators ran parallel to the Supertram and undercut fares.
Particularly in the early days of expressway concessions, in order to attract investors, local governments often offered revenue guarantees to investor-operators. However, such arrangements were outlawed under a 2002 State Council directive. This led New World Development to divest from 13 toll roads and bridges in China.
Contractual guarantees, covering areas such as restricting competition from other roads and even revenue guarantees, though often useful where a project is perceived as potentially high-risk, can prove controversial. The original arrangements for Sydney’s Cross-City Tunnel being a case-in-point (but one which would require at least an entire article to properly elucidate).
Another change in conditions which occurred in China in the mid-to-late 1990s was the maximum tollway length which Provincial governments could be responsible for. The aim was to enable local governments to develop local tollways, but strategic long-distance tollways should be approved by central government, which had previously prepared a National Trunk Highway System masterplan for tolled expressways to link-up the country. However, at least when first introduced, this directive was sometimes bypassed by Provincial governments splitting a tollway concession into a number of contracts, each covering a distance beneath the threshold requiring central government approval. Nevertheless, Beijing’s approval was required for any projects seeking stock market listings.
Despite the success of many tollways in China, it must also be mentioned that not all have been successful. Indeed, it would appear that following the success of many projects, some local governments decided to get in on the act, including promoting schemes which did not have the same demand/ economic/ financial rationale of the earlier success stories. A possible incentive to do this might well have been a common occurrence in China of local governments fixating upon GDP growth figures and using Gross Fixed Capital Formation to boost such statistics.
As stated at the start of my piece, effective highway networks do appear to play a part in assisting economic development; without such transport networks, economic development could well be curtailed. And private involvement can increase the pool of capital available to finance such networks, enabling them to be developed more quickly. However, there is no single best method. And in particular China’s experience might suggest that approaches, in terms of financing forms and what is allowable under contract, might actually need to evolve over timeframes of just a few years. Early concessions may be seen as riskier, so requiring more favourable terms and guarantees. Thereafter, as more potential investor-operators come forward, terms and conditions might be tightened up. Let me summarise as follows:
- Accelerating tollway development to link-up key centres would appear to be good for national economic and industrial development (and also can help farmers’ produce reach cities more quickly and thus cheaply, also affording urban consumers fresher produce)
- However, additional tollways running parallel and effectively duplicating connectivity should only be implemented when they can be justified financially without undermining preceding concessions; such practice also reduces risk for concession-bidders (so ceteris paribus, government should be able to secure more favourable terms)
- Wherever possible, tollway development should also be coordinated with the broader transport system within the corridors concerned
- Decentralisation of decision making can help speed-up and arguably, democratise the tollway development process; however, an absolutely necessary pre-requisite is that the necessary skills and knowledge exist within the relevant tier(s) of government to which such authorities and responsibilities are to be devolved.
- Although not discussed explicitly above, I would also add that given the size of contracts which are associated with these kinds of projects, a good, strong governance system should also be maintained, so as to minimise both the incidence and scale of corruption. (I appreciate that perhaps I should say “eliminate” corruption, but no country in the world has yet managed this, so it would be disingenuous to talk of eliminating corruption outright)
- Finally and most importantly, learn from overseas but tailor your own approaches to India, and indeed perhaps to each part of India, and then re-tailor your approaches as the sector and the country as a whole, develop.
Richard Di Bona
September 14, 2011
Mr. Bartlett has been involved in the North American transportation sector since 1987, starting in traffic signal and control systems, then in emergency pre-emption systems, and from the early days of ITS onward, the design, production and deployment of highway variable message signs.
Mr. Bartlett has written many specifications on VMS products, has been the author of numerous technical industry papers, and is the author of two novels.
From the pen of Mr . Bartlett
When I was asked to write something for IndianTollways, my immediate thought was to share some facts and figures, some statistics and trends, and perhaps make a few comparisons between worlds of the awakening giant of Indian ITS and North America. Interesting on some levels, exciting from a business opportunity view, but pretty dry stuff for the most part. After all, when we are not at the office, or preparing for some work-related event, how many of us in the transportation biz really look forward to sitting down with a riveting piece on road construction for a good read? Did you inwardly shake your head and say “not me”? I know, I did too.
My chosen topic, something along the lines of “A Passage through India: Tollroads and Technology” sounded pretty catchy. Perhaps the ITS pros in the emerging Indian market might find my perspective interesting. Having been in the transportation business for almost a quarter-century, I watched the birth of the ITS movement in here in Canada and the United States. Not easy going, I can tell you.
So I began my research, looking at the best-practices models, the lessons-learned white papers, hoping that I’d see something that was a little different – something that didn’t appear already on the program list of every ITS conference everywhere.
Then a strange and wonderful thing happened. I was talking with a very good friend of mine (an Indian professional with a successful business in ITS), and we found ourselves discussing some issues with getting a project done and making it really work for the long run. And I realized that although the content was completely different, I was having the same kind of conversation that I had in 1988 while trying to figure out the deployment strategy for the first Variable Message Signs in Canada. Or in 1993 when the U.S. Interagency Group was formulating the specifications for the EZPass semi-active transponder based toll system. Or in 1997 while discussing the safety concerns on Canada’s highway 407, the first fully automated open-tolling highway in the world. Or in fact, just last week, during a meeting on a nagging site issue that could threaten an otherwise well-planned delivery in the U.S.
The common thread spanning time and continents, it turns out, has less to do with experience and technology and more to do with the timeless nature of people interacting with people. Like so many things in life, it turns out, our problems and issues, tragedies and triumphs, are similar – not only across geography but across time.
For example, India’s Grand Trunk Road, dating back to around 300 BCE, was in many respects a model ITS deployment in its day. Chandragupta Maurya had a staggering number of officials employed specifically to maintain the road, collect fees for use, and manage its traffic and usage. In fact, the road worked so well that eventually invaders marveled at how fast they could cover ground. In addition to the logistical difficulties of managing the far-reaching roadway without the benefit of modern communications, constant threat of invasion and political turmoil must have made the enterprise difficult indeed.
If we go back even further, to the era of the ancient Silk Road more than 3,000 years ago, what do we see? Well, let’s put aside the materials, technology, and conveyances for a moment: What do we see then? We see many places where locals charged a fee for use of sections of the road in exchange for its upkeep (and sometimes even for safe passage). The voluntary exchange between road operators and users kept the problems of the day (bandits, invasions, road deterioration) under reasonable enough control that all manner of villages, towns and communities grew along the way. The end result, of course, was that technology, knowledge, human and monetary capital were spread across great distances more efficiently and contributed significantly to overall production and human advancement. The net gain in wealth creation is incalculable.
I realized that while our present-day version of ITS is relatively new to India, the true concepts of ITS have been in practice in this great country for millennia. Intelligent transportation in 2400 BCE meant the understanding of wealth creation through efficiency of trade by people of Lothal, where they built what today is the oldest known commercial seaport in the world.
The Silk Road, the port of Lothal, the GT Road – all ancient examples of ITS in action. They shared attributes of using the best of what they had to maximize the efficiency of movement of people and goods – and a fair exchange of fee for use. Likewise, they shared many of the same attributes we encounter today, from contract problems, delays, weather, conflicting interests (of course in those days conflicting interests were settled by the sword, and today we prefer meetings and lawyers). But to a large extent, their issues were analogous to our issues, and the end goals have not changed much, either: To facilitate the movement of people, ideas, goods and services; to expand trade, to facilitate the advancement that is the engine of wealth creation. This is the tide that lifts all boats, the road that connects us all.
VP Business Development
Sharing Few Queries with Mr. Bartlett
Ques: Where do you see the future of ITS (Intelligent Transportation System ) in India?
Ans: Very interesting question, because I think ITS will look different here. India has a wonderful, frustrating, and eclectic way of being a bit different than the rest of the world no matter what the application and I believe India’s approach to ITS will fit that description too. In terms of deployment and use of ITS, I think the two main areas in the near-term will be toll roads and intermodal commercial transport. I see more of a macro ITS approach in India. I don’t see, for example, as much emphasis on micro-ITS such as red light cameras, license plate readers, active-variable speed systems, which I realize is somewhat of a contrarian view, since India’s urban centers are some of the most chaotic and congested in the world. I just happen to think that we will see more success in a macro approach over the first decade or so.
Ques: When do you feel ITS will be common in daily traveling in India ?
Ans : My observation is that Indians have been using forms of ITS for 3,000 years – just not in the way we think when we use the term “ITS”. Every time I stand at an intersection in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi – you name it – I am amazed at the ITS going on. How else to explain four lanes of traffic in each direction (on a two-lane road) making u-turns and cross-overs, and pedestrians in the middle of it all making their way here and there! Yet it is quite rare that one sees an accident of any consequence. Seriously though, the rate of projects incorporating ITS components is unlike anywhere in the world right now, so as these projects come on line, now and in the near term, they will touch more and more people in their daily travels. People will eventually have well-defined expectations and reliance on ITS, what I have termed “ITS Symbiosis”. But that’s a whole discussion in itself.
Ques: How is your product going to benefit common people ?
Ans:- Variable message signs (VMS) are kind of a unique aspect of ITS. Engineering-wise, a VMS is a rather complex system with a bunch of subsystems whose whole purpose in life is to be as non-complex as possible. In other words, an event or condition arises somewhere that may affect the motorist, and a clear message warns or advises them in advance. Simple as that. But the benefit to the common people is beyond enormous and highly complex. The causal relationship may be as simple as saving the motorist a bit of time getting from A to B, or as profound as saving his life by warning of road blockage, fog, or other destructive event just ahead. In aggregate, the benefit is an increase in efficiency (thus carrying capacity as well) of the roadway, saved time, saved fuel, and increased safety.
Ques: What are the new technologies LEDSTAR is planning to launch in the coming year ?
Ans : If I was certain that my competitors were not hanging on every word of this interview, I would amaze you with all sorts of breathtaking announcements. Suffice to say (wink wink) we are looking to give clients more flexibility in VMS application, more information & telematics. And we never forget our commitment to legendary durability.
Ques:-The main Challenge that you feel ITS is facing today and any suggestion for it.
Ans:- I see the main Challenge as a heavy, slippery ball consisting of three ingredients. The first is Legacy: It is a huge and complex effort to upgrade, change, make new, build on, etc., existing infrastructure. When I say “infrastructure”, by the way, I mean both physical and mental varieties. The second ingredient is Inertia: As Newton said, a body will remain in its given state unless acted upon by an external force. When you consider the billions/trillions of day-to-day interactions & routines that are based on doing the same thing in the same way today as was done yesterday, making changes to the overall system takes a relentless, Herculean effort. The third ingredient is Commitment: This is not just put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is kind of commitment. That type of commitment is actually not too difficult. The amount of funding flowing to ITS programs all over the world is increasing from both private and public sectors. What is more difficult is shifting commitment on the part of government (ITS priorities sometimes only last as long as election cycles). The problem of commitment is evident in the private sector also, where many products have been long on promises and short on quality and lifespan. What are the solutions for handling this heavy, slippery ball? No-one has all the answers. But I think we get on the right path with properly balanced partnerships between public and private enterprises, high standards, and being relentless. We just keep at it, and time will do the rest.
Ques: Would you like to be the guest editor for Indian Tollways for the month of September ?
Ans: Absolutely, it would be an honor.
Ques: Your views on “Role of Indian Tollways as a web magazine for ITS” .
Ans: It’s far reaching, topical, well-written, has fascinating and timely articles, and it’s free. What’s not to like?
Thanks for all the Answers ,ending with a positive note that LEDSTAR brings new and new technologies in coming year and shapes the future of ITS.
Best wishes from Indian Tollways
November 27, 2010
Over the decade investments for broadening and refurbishments of roads / highways in India, have made Government, Infrastructure companies, banks and financial institution mature enough to manage and execute contracts on Annuity or BOT basis vide the PPP model. Policies for the road usage charging as a recovery to the investment and ongoing maintenance of the infrastructure asset – Roads / Highways / Expressways were brought in with a clear audit mechanism to ensure quality roads and safety to the users. This is how the need for technology oriented Tolling system arise. But the challenge was to model the Tolling system specs to meet the Indian conditions and also to ensure no leakage to the revenues collection. Which means, vehicle count, exemptions and vehicle classification need to be accurate. Secondly any incidents and violations need to be recorded. Over the last few years the technology driven tolling industry has matured and has gained understanding to Indian requirements. Resulting in bringing right competition with the growing international / reputed tolling companies to participate. Now the concern is no more selecting tolling system but a right company providing not only tolling systems but also service them cost effectively over the long drawn concession period. Having understood that today the concessionaires are looking at matured established tolling system provider companies. This has forced International companies to think on having local establishment independently or through Joint Ventures to address the Indian market. And I am of the opinion that these entities shall reap the present mature market for implementing Tolling systems over Highway / Expressway and subsequently maintaining them over decades.
Going further, today the developers/ concessionaires /infrastructure companies have different challenge. Most of the reputed companies have multiple HIGH VALUE investment BOT projects, which are at different locations and stretches. Any unwanted incident can result into huge revenue loss even with best tolling and ITS systems. Monitoring multiple projects become difficult unless and until one haves Central Data Center (CDC) hooking all the projects to monitor and analyse individual operation report to justify actions like mobilize manpower, financial investment , subcontract etc. In true sense the CDC acts as DSS (Decision Support System). This is the time the concessionaire / Developers/ O&M companies need to look into reputed IT companies and make worthy investment for the CDC. But the point is which IT companies? One who are well established with quality standards to ensure stability, scalability of the IT system and must understand Tolling, ITS and Road infrastructure segment to interact and scope the CDC requirements. To name few NIIT Technologies Ltd, HCL, Wipro, TCS, CMC are the ones to look into.
New Business Emergence in Tolling – The State Border Check post in India
Across the state border entry points, various checks are performed on commercial vehicles carrying goods for Overloading, Permits, Vehicle fitness, PUC etc. and have to collect taxes like Entry Tax, Motor Vehicle Tax, Penalties etc. Presently these activities are manual and human dependent raising possibilities of manipulation and errors in classifying vehicle(s) and payment collection. Secondly physical check leads to substantial time spend. This results in huge queue in border check post. To facilitate, ease and to speed up the process, toll systems are brought in to classify vehicles, check overloading, capture and record vehicle registration no. plate and account tax collection / penalties. As “Border Check Post Automation” is an emerging business, will take a while for the tolling and auditing system to evolve and standardize. IT Systems has to play a very vital role and all the border check post integration has to happen centrally from a single location to monitor, analyse and to make decisions. The good part to this emergence is thinking happening in Government and hopefully will result into collection of accountable revenues across all the state border entries and investment for the progress of the country.
Practice Head – Surface Transportation & Airport
NIIT Technologies Ltd.
September 10, 2010
Below mentioned plans of honorable minister if put into action, possess potential of giving a new lease of life to wide spread Indian road network. Infrastructure development may take a new turn. It seems road sector turnaround story in the making.
Let’s hope for good governance and performance.
- Infrastructure sector-Growth Wheel of India: The story of India in the next decade will be the story of Infrastructure. Shri Nath says infrastructure will be the key and defining sector for India in the coming decade as was IT in the 90’s and the present decade.
- Topping the priority List: Giving a world class infrastructure to India, has become the top most objective of Government. A well-knit and coordinated road network system plays an important role in the sustained economic growth of a country. Therefore, government’s first priority is rising to the challenge of maintaining and managing high growth through investment in infrastructure sector.
- Setting Target: 12,000 km road aimed for the next year, 7000 will be on BOT (Toll basis) and 5000 km will be on annuity and EPC basis.
- Feeling the Infra pulse: Transport Minister Mr. Kamal Nath announced that the road and highways section need an investment of around Rs 60,000 crore in the next 3 years.
- Passionate Approach: The target of developing 20 km daily would be accomplished by April. We have reached 9 km per day of road construction. To construct 20 km of roads a day or 7,000 km a year, there had to be 20,000 km of work in progress.
- Clearing Road Block: NHAI chairman Brajeswar Singh corroborated this saying they are in the process of setting up of 150 special land acquisition units at the project level.
- Addressing Bottlenecks: Model Concession Agreement (MCA) is not the Gita or Bible that can’t be amended, Shri Nath added. Govt. assured private developers of fixing all their genuine concerns.The norms are being eased to attract better participation.
The economy seems to be stabilizing soon. Let us pray all goes well and the government kick-starts the good work on fast track and infra upliftment reaches a new high.
I am glad to be part of the online community of the industry and use this as a sounding board for the common issues faced by different concessionaires.
Thanks and Warm Regards
Sr. Project Manager (BOT -Tolling)
(Mr. AV Suraj has got vast and rich experience in implementation of BOT National Highway Projects. He has also undertaken and supervised various toll and highway traffic management projects, all across India.)
August 18, 2010
By: Marc Obrowski
The trickiest (and funniest) toll collector fraud I have ever seen can not happen in India. Sometimes I wish it could. You could make a film of it. If Bollywood were in the Philippines I am sure this would already have happened. Only problem: this story has a really bad ending. Let me explain.
My favourite toll audit tool is statistical analysis. The idea is simple: Fraud is an irregularity. If you look at the right data in the right way this irregularity will somehow show in your graphs and tables. I like it because it’s geek work. It’s only you and data. No people skills needed.
My alarm bells ring when I look at some data of the North Luzon Expressway in the Philippines:
Analysis number 1: Number of exempt (i.e. free) transactions per toll collector. Employee number 54312 had more than 10 times the average. And more than twice as the next collector in the ranking. Can’t be. Let’s fire 54312. Wait… let’s do some more checks first.
Analysis number 2: Number of exempt transactions by toll plaza and by toll lane. Lane 2 of plaza X has more than any other lane. Can’t be. Let’s fire lane 2. Wait a minute…
Analysis number 3: Who worked in plaza X? It was mainly 54312 and four others. They all had more exempt transactions than collectors in other plazas. But when 54312 was on duty (always in lane 2) it was rampant. Almost all exempts where recorded in that lane, almost none in the other 3. There are thus three factors: the plaza, the lane and the collector.
Now I hate it. Sifting through data alone won’t do it. I actually have to go out and talk to people. Geek time over.
I ended up talking to many. And here are the results.
Plaza X is where the patrol vehicle depot is. The lion share of exempts is with those cars. But why are suddenly all our patrol cars recorded only at lane 2 when 54312 is on duty? If I weren’t such a geek it would have dawned on me the moment I met collector 54312.
54312 goes by the name of Juanita de la Cruz (name changed for her protection from readers like you). And she is devastatingly pretty. The patrollers knew that her lane was number 2. Do I need to explain more? There was no fraud after all.
Oh, yes, the bad ending. Here it comes: Juanita married Francisco, a handsome patroller.
This is a true story. It happened in 2004.
July 29, 2010
We, Indian Tollways are proud to have Marc as the Guest Editor of India Tollways.
Marc has worked for Siemens as a telecommunications network project manager in Germany, Indonesia and Australia. After a mission as peacekeeper for the United Nations in East Timor he joined Groupe Egis in 2003.
He was the CEO of Egis Road Operations until 2008 and has then worked in consulting projects in London, Australia and now in India.
Founder and CEO Metro Infrasys P Ltd